Faster, higher, raunchier?
Thanks to Channel Nine’s captivating coverage of the Vancouver Olympics Games you might have missed the news this week that pole dancers are bidding to have their ‘sport’ included as a test event at the 2012 London Olympics.
KT Coates, director of UK pole exercise school, Vertical Dance, is leading the campaign. ‘After a great deal of feedback from the pole-dance community, many of us have decided that it’s about time pole fitness is recognised as a competitive sport, and what better way for recognition than to be part of the 2012 Olympics held in London,’ she said.
So far a petition to get pole dancing to London has attracted some 4000 signatures. The Vertical Dance website notes that ‘by signing our petition you are showing the powers that be, that we seriously believe in the Vertical Bar.’
It’s going to take more than serious belief. Apart from anything, the official events list has already been drawn up for 2012 and the IOC stopped allowing demonstration or test events (typically used to gauge support for new sports and to promote non-Olympic sport) after Barcelona in 1992.
Even before all that, pole dancing must be recognised as a sport by the IOC.
But if pole dancing was to be recognised, could prove it was ‘widely practiced’ around the world and jumped through the many hoops of IOC bureaucracy, it still stands a chance of making the Olympics one day.
It’s a small chance. Cricket and squash have been recognised as sports without making it to the big gig. Softball and baseball were booted out of the games after Beijing in 2008. According to the Washington Times, ‘the IOC simply doesn’t care about’ softball and baseball.
Bureaucracy aside, pole-dancing’s bid is also likely to attract criticism from wowsers, those who think anything that isn’t naked marathon running shouldn’t be in the Olympics and disgruntled cricket fans.
Nevertheless, pole dancers might have a case.
Sure, there’s a raunch factor involved with dancing around a pole, but it also requires huge amounts of balance, strength, agility and flexibility to master moves like the Bouncing Boomerang, Handspring Split and Superman.
Those who pole dance professionally are seriously cut. And the routines are a lot more interesting to watch than a marathon or test match.
There’s certainly an established community of competitors. Last year Tokyo hosted the second International Pole Dancing Fitness Championships with entrants from 11 countries. Organisers of the annual Miss Pole Dance Australia competition see it is a ‘highly prestigious event’ that attracts dancers from all over Australia.
Indeed pole dancing is no longer restricted to sparkly platform heels, g-strings and gentleman’s clubs. According to Pole Fitness Australia, even ‘real women’ (including mums) now go to the poles to keep fit.
And it’s not just for girls either. Australian pole fitness instructor Dave Kahl recently took out the men’s ultimate pole champion title in Tokyo.
While pole dancing doesn’t necessarily spring to mind when one thinks ‘Olympic’ (or even ‘sport’), there are a lot more pointless sports on display in current Olympic competition, which require a lot less physical prowess.
Over the past two weeks we have giggled over curling, scratched our heads at the skeleton and tried not to puke at the overacting and costumes of the ice dancing.
The summer games are no better. Every four years along with the medals, furry mascots and human drama, we shrug our shoulders at synchronised swimming and trampolining and wonder if its OK to question the validity of events in which horses do all the work.
Those who might think that pole dancing is too edgy for the clean cut image of the games should look at the snowboarding and ski-cross events, for whom technical terms include ‘winding down the windows’, ‘carnage’ and ‘super styling’. The US snowboard team wore ripped denim-style ski pants and it’s not uncommon for riders to compete with punk music blaring in their headphones.
And while it didn’t originate in red-lit bars, beach volleyball does not attract the amount of attention it does because people really like volleyball.
More than anything, in an age of obesity when we’re supposed to get ourselves interested in fitness and wellbeing, surely - as long as you warm up - a few bouncing boomerangs can’t hurt.
Ania Przeplasko, founder of the International Pole Dancing Fitness Association reckons they can’t. ‘It’s just a matter of time before pole dancing gets Olympic recognition,’ she says.
Should pole dancing succeed in its bid for Olympic glory no doubt we’ll all wonder what the world is coming to … before quickly tuning in to enjoy the show.
One can only imagine what Eddy McGuire will have to say about that.
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